Well then.. That was... Infuriating.
The Cavaliers came out with a great team effort for most of the game against the Pelicans Friday night. In the end they were unable to hang on and lost
- Loved what Dellavadova brought tonight. Sure he could defend Gordon or Evans. He fouled like crazy when he was out there. But his presence in the starting lineup lit a fire under Waiters and his foul trouble allowed Sergey Karasev to come in and lace a few three pointers.
- Bynum had his best game as a Cavalier. He had a great start with a quick 8 points. Played great defense throughout his time on the floor, made a gorgeous pass to Thompson in the third, and even flashed some range on his jumper. He may never be as healthy as he was before his surgery. But he's slowly becoming more comfortable on the court. His development throughout the season will have a massive impact on the team.
- Dion Waiters had arguably his best half as a Cavalier. Hitting 5-7 shots for 14 points was one thing. But he played within the flow of the offense, was locked in on the defensive side of the floor and attacked the basket. Where and how Dion gets his looks is more important than whether or not he makes them at this point. If he continues to attack the rim, make the extra pass, and not over handle the ball, his union with Kyrie Irving will go much smoother moving forward. He cooled off in the second half. But his defense was consistent and his decision making was sound. Mike Brown may chose to start Dellavadova again tomorrow to really hammer home the message. But Waiters has made a strong case to be the Cavaliers starting shooting guard again.
- Anthony Davis is one of the best young players in the game. He's got so much talent and can impact the game in many ways. Tonight his offensive ability was not on full display. Tristan Thompson played an outstanding game against Davis on both ends of the floor. His strength makes him a difficult assignment for Davis. Obviously he is nowhere near the player Davis is, but it sure was nice to see him slow down one of the better young players in the league. Unfortunately he was unable to stop Davis from making his game saving foul on Kyrie Irving.
- Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee were everything I could hope for tonight. If both of them play within themselves and accept their roles, they can be the SF by committee that we hoped they could be coming into this season. Neither of them tried to dribble unless it was a drive to the basket. Clark was awesome knocking down shots from distance. I'm very pleased with the effort they displayed.
- This was one of Jarrett Jack's good games. They come without warning, without reason, and without explanation. They won't be something we can count on. But we must always remember these moments when he makes us want to throw the remote through the TV.
I leave this game frustrated, but hopeful. The Cavaliers really did play a good game tonight. Irving, Waiters and Thompson all had good games. Mike Brown probably could have put Tristan in earlier in the fourth quarter. But the hot shooting of Clark made it tough. There are plenty of positives you can take away from this game that bode for the future success of this team.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. When you give heavy minutes to this many players that are 22 and under, the only thing you can consistently count on is inconsistency. Jarrett Jack is our only real veteran on this team that can create offense, and he is more of a one man army than a steady presence. Until there is a veteran starter added to this roster I struggle to really get worked up over losses like this. The thing that gets me going is when players don't show growth as individuals and continuously display the same bad habits with no effort to change it. That was not the case tonight. They played with effort and heart. Outside of Kyrie Irving, they just don't have a go to option to get them a bucket when they need to stop a run, or a clutch bucket near the end of the game. It doesn't matter how good Kyrie Irving is, hero ball isn't going to be a sustainable option late. There needs to be a second option.
Until that point I will continue to look for the improvements that Mike Brown is trying to make in this young core. The development of Irving, Waiters, Thompson, Karasev, Bennett, Zeller and Felix into well rounded pros that can play within a system seems to be the number one priority with Brown. Until the team makes a statement by changing the personnel, I have no problem with this approach.